It's getting to that time of years when I start thinking about making Christmas cards, and because I have had a recurrence of the ailment that afflicted me a couple of days ago, I am now at home and sort of thinking about it.
I never used to send Christmas cards - in fact, when living on my own for years, I didn't bother celebrating Christmas either, but just holed up indoors rather like I am today, but usually not in as much pain. Then, when H.I.'s grandchildren arrived starting 19 years ago, Christmas suddenly became important again, and is now used (in this household) as the mid-winter distraction-fest that it was originally designed for before the bloody Christians hi-jacked it for their own political purposes.
Many years ago - on the spur of the moment - I decided to borrow someone's 1 ton pick-up and motor down to The Lizard in Cornwall, with the sole intention of picking up a few free lumps of the famous Serpentine rock which the entire peninsula is made of. I left on the morning of Christmas Eve, and eventually arrived in chilly Penzance, where I decided to spend the night.
I obtained the last spare hotel room in all of the town, in the largest of the hotels which was rammed with families down in Cornwall for a Christmas holiday. When I went down for dinner that evening, the waitress was distraught to have to tell me that there were no more Christmas turkey dinners left! I said that I couldn't care less, and asked for whatever they had to hand instead. I think I got an omelette.
When I sat down at my little table in a corner, I looked over to see a man of about 35 years of age, also sitting on his own and wearing a sombre dark suit which made him look like a solicitor. His cutlery was laid out in front of him, and as he waited for the turkey with all the trimmings, he ordered a quarter bottle of Champagne. I was transfixed with something between horror and pity.
He popped the cork of his ration of Champers, then reached out and picked up the cracker on the table. For one horrible moment, I thought he was going to look up and ask me to pull it with him, but he pulled it himself using both hands. He then extricated the bright green paper crown from inside it, unfolded it and put it on his head, without so much as the feintest smile. I couldn't bear to watch any more, so I finished my meal and went to my room to watch crap TV.
The next morning I drove down to The Lizard and spent a while looking around before I settled on a large, cliff-top car-park as my potential quarry. On the cliff edge of the car park, several large boulders of the indigenous rock were placed in a row right on the brink, to prevent people from actually driving over the edge and into the sea, which was a couple of hundred feet below. I spotted the very rock I wanted.
Having given it a bit of thought, I decided it would be best to ask the attendant if I could take this boulder, on the condition I replaced it with another so that a car could not drive between the two either side, sending the occupants to certain death. To my amazement, they just said "Yes", so that's what I did.
I don't know how much it weighed, but I guess around an eighth of a ton, so picking it up and walking to the car - which (for some reason) was parked several hundred yards uphill - was out of the question. To the bemusement of all the families going for a post-prandial Christmas walk on the cliffs, I rolled it - very slowly - to the truck. This took about half an hour.
There was one final obstacle before I could get it onto the truck, however - a wooden stile of about 4 feet in height. I looked around the landscape, and chose the beefiest of all the dads out walking on Christmas day, and asked him to give me a lift with it. Being the Season of Goodwill, he could hardly say no, and I think he almost had a heart-attack in the process. I was used to this sort of ludicrous activity, but the poor dad was obviously not. When he left me - wheezing and out of breath with his family looking on and laughing at him - he looked like he would have liked (if he had the energy) to kill me, Season of Goodwill or not.
Oh yes, the hare in the top of this post. Have you ever wondered who started the artistic craze to depict all the bloody hares in every size and medium that have saturated the Art World for the last 35 years? Well I can tell you. It was my own, dear H.I.
It must have been about 35 years ago when she and her now ex-husband designed and produced this little image as a Christmas card. Her ex - being a printer - reproduced it as a monochrome etching, and they duly folded them up and sent them to all their friends.
One of their friends was the famous British sculptor, Barry Flanagan. Early in the new year, Barry began producing the first of his now ubiquitous 'Hare' sculptures, and they were so charming and successful that every other sculptor in Britain began copying them in one form or another, on the basis that you cannot go wrong with a hare. They still are.
So you can blame the pestilential outbreak of hares on a Christmas card - this Christmas card above.